Inside the Citadel in the ancient city of Ruin resides a select group of monks charged with protecting the Sacrament, along with thousands of ancient texts discovered over the millennium. The nature of the Sacrament is known only to a select few of those monks – the Sancti. But when Brother Samuel is initiated into the Sancti, and discovers what the Sacrament is, he decides can not live with that knowledge or continue to belong to the Sancti. He makes a harrowing and torturous climb to the top of the Citadel, where he stands for hours in a pose symbolic of the Tau, the symbol of the Sancti, before plunging to his death. So begins Sanctus, first book of the Ruin trilogy from British author Simon Toyne. The questions left unanswered are: Why did he do it? What did he see that lead him to take his own life?
I picked up Sanctus in Dollar General for $3.00 because it looked like the type of book that I enjoy, one that combines history with action and while the historic aspects of the story are somewhat fictional the action and the characters more than make up for it. The key character in the book is newspaper reporter Liv Adamson, who is the identical twin of Brother Samuel. Actually, they were the first conjoined twins to be different sexes. The story revolves around Liv’s attempt to discover the why of Samuel’s death. Liv hadn’t seen her brother in eight years and assumed was dead! Of course, the Sancti want no one to know the secret of the Sacrament, and will do anything to stop Liv’s search, while others including members of an ancient rival religious sect of the Sancti want to help!
Sanctus is rather lengthy 578 pages, but the writing is crisp, and the characters and action kept me turning the pages quickly, particularly through the second half of the book, once I knew all the players!
Several of the reviews of Sanctus, I read at Goodreads.com were negative because the readers felt that Toyne did not develop the city or the people of Ruin realistically enough. The reviewers felt the setting could be any city or police force in the US or the world. Again, I thought the action and characters more than made up for any lack of geographic “sense of place”. I did feel that the descriptions and feel for the Citadel, the mountain fortress of the Sancti, was well done. I had a feel for the dark library that housed thousands of historic documents and the spectral images of the monks that worked within the library
Bottom Line: I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will move on quickly to the second book in the trilogy – The Key. I think that if you enjoy the books of Dan Brown and Chris Kuzneski you’ll enjoy Sanctus.
Book 34 for 2014 – Here’s the Trailer for Sanctus